Designed to Need Your Gifts

I recently had a conversation with Josh Hix about the gifts that God gives each one of us, from 1 Corinthians 12. All references below come from that chapter. I appreciated and was encouraged by his thoughts, and asked him to write them for a Pastor's Note. Here they are:

It is the Spirit of God who “apportions [spiritual gifts] to each one individually as he wills” (v11). That last part is italicized for a reason; it’s important. Our giftings (or lack thereof) are according to the will of God. Let’s consider three important implications of this:

  • Like our own bodies, God wants the Body of Christ to consist of many diverse, interworking parts or members (vv12-13). The intentional dispersion of spiritual gifts among God’s children guarantees this. Just as much as God wisely gifts a believer in one way, he also wisely withholds a hundred other spiritual gifts from that same believer (vv29-30). This creates a beautiful interdependence among Christians. Where one is weak, another is made strong; where one is lacking, another is given supply. You aren’t meant to be some sort of “super-Christian” who possesses all spiritual skill and knowledge. Your shortcomings (if they can properly be called that) are intentional on the part of God. You are meant to depend on your brothers and sisters in Christ—and they on you!
  • Such a division of gifts militates against any form or notion of elitism. Just as the body is more than a hand or foot, the Church is more than a pastor or a board of elders. Indeed, “If all were a single member, where would the body be?” (v19). Important as it is, the arm is wholly inadequate to singlehandedly accomplish the Church’s mission since the mission itself both includes and depends upon all the members of the Body working together in unity (vv15-17). This means that, among other things, God has seen to it that a shepherd—no matter how gifted—is utterly dependent on the flock for the ministry to function as intended. In a very real way, just as you need your pastor and elders, they need you.
  • The apportioning of spiritual gifts throughout the Church is meant to eliminate a sense of inferiority or purposelessness within the Christian—not exacerbate it! Every Christian has been gifted by God for a unique purpose within the church such that “the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,”’ (v21). No matter who you are or where you find yourself, as a Spirit-filled believer you have something significant to contribute. If you feel “weaker” or “less honorable” than other Christians, know that the Spirit of God has made you “indispensable” to the Church (vv22-23). Therefore, whatever your insecurities, don’t recoil from fellowship and service; through you, God is prepared to serve his people in special ways.